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Home > News > 2014 10 29 > DIGITAL VERSUS PRINT-Don’t be brainwashed!

 We live in an electronic era where breaking news is instant and as a result there are many people in marketing who would have you believe magazines and newspapers are on their deathbed. In addition to its speed they point out the amazing reach of the Internet, its low cost, its and the increasing numbers that are attracted to this medium through telephones as much as computers, large public screens and strategically placed monitors in offices and shops. And some tell us in 20 years time everything will be done on telephone or tablets and newsagents, publishing houses, magazines and print agencies will disappear. They repeatedly tell us thousands of hits are registered on popular websites and swell our heads with potential sales that might ensue.

It sounds too good to be true and of course it is too good to be true.

The great Digital versus Print debate is ongoing and inconclusive and while diehard exponents on both side of the debate will argue passionately for their cause most of the middle ground can see the merit of multichannel and a place for both.

Marketing and advertising go hand in hand in the modern world, but there is one subtle difference. The former is what you have to do to promote your business and if you don’t then your business might well crumble. The latter is an option to support marketing, but it comes at a cost and when times are tough it is often the medium that suffers most. It is certainly ironic that many companies go to great lengths to trim their advertising budgets before non-productive fixed costs and create more problems when their revenue drops yet their fixed costs remain. And in the midst of these tough austerity decisions Mr. Internet is a welcome option with almost insatiable market penetration and low costs. It sounds like a marketing dream and therein lies the fallacy.

The Internet is a tremendous marketing tool if used correctly. It has amazing reach and cannot be equalled in relaying breaking news at rapid speed all over the world. It can also generate sales in particular fields, but there’s a big difference between beaming news all over the world and closing sales from websites and social media. Many people still love the hard copy and there’s a certain comfort in carrying a newspaper or a favourite magazine home to read. Reading hard copy as opposed to reading a screen is still the preferred option of most people and is much more relaxing. Some surveys claim readers will spend 30 minutes reading a printed magazine, but only three minutes reading a digital copy. They also have statistics that dispel the myth that more people read online, but in reality if the Internet started at a negligible base then inevitably its numbers will grow every year. That said, there is no denying that newspaper sales and advertising revenue are dropping, but they are mainly in the breaking news market. In contrast there are more magazines on newsagents’ racks these days that ever before and people love them. Interestingly big Digital publishers like Politico, Pitchfork and Pando are going back to print, a medium they were supposed to replace. The underlying element in this debate is that print has a physicality that digital has not and customers are more comfortable with it. 

At the end of the day when hard decisions have to be made the marketing cake should include all forms of promotion and many experts are now seeing the merit in digital marketing being aligned to print to get the best of both worlds. After all, you could have the best website in the world, but if nobody knows about it then it could be a well-kept secret and a lost opportunity. Worse still, you might be expecting customers from multiple hits, but they may not be significant browsers and spending only limited time on the site. The business that relies totally on website marketing has a flawed business model and when the leads and sales don’t materialize then it will be back to the drawing board if it survives long enough to identify and consider change.    

We should embrace the electronic age and make the most of what it offers, but we should not allow its protagonists to brainwash us into thinking it is the answer to all our marketing needs. Thankfully most of us are not brain-dead and can still decide what we like and what we want.      

Clarence Hiles is a Mortgage Broker and feature writer for a number of business publications. He can be contacted at Clarence@caribbeanmortgages.com

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